TR (ANNC): And now. From the hushed reading room of the Herndon County Library. We bring you: Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian.
FN (TEEN): Can I go home now Miss Harrison? It's Christmas Eve. Please? I told my mom I'd be home for supper.
SS: Oh for heaven's sake, Kent.
FN (TEEN): It's Christmas Eve--
SS: Oh all right -- go if you must. Just make sure you come back that much earlier on Wednesday.
FN (TEEN): Totally Miss Harrison-thanks a lot. Bye! Merry Christmas! (FOOTSTEPS OUT, DOOR OPENS, CLOSES)
SS: (SIGH) Oh dear. Well, there he goes. Off to celebrate his ridiculous little Christmas. Guess I'll do some reshelving-- (CAROLERS OFF: Joy to the world, the lord has come, let earth receive its king. Let every heart prepare him room....) Now what in the world is that? (FOOTSTEPS, DOOR OPENS, CAROLERS: And heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and heaven and nature sing.) Oh for goodness sakes, do you not see the sign? This is a library, people! That means quiet! Quiet! (DOOR SLAMS). My goodness. Some people just think that everybody wants what they're selling. Well guess what? I prefer peace and quiet. Just me, and my books --(HUMMING) let's see here...ah, Charles Dickens. I love Dickens. Especially "Bleak House"-- (GROANING OFF, LIMPING, DRAGGING HEAVY OBJECTS, APPROACHING) What in the world? -- Is somebody there? Hello? Hello? -- (SHE OPENS DOOR, GASPS)
TR ( (OLD MAN): Ruth-Ruth Harrison. Look at me.
SS: Why-it's -- my old boss, Jack Marley. Rising from the reference section!
TR ( (OLD MAN): Ruth Harrison. I bring a message-
SS: Jack-- why are all those books chained to your body?
TR (OLD MAN): These are the books I meant to read in life, but did not have time--
ohhhhhhhhhhh. SS: But Jack'you were a good man--
TR ( (OLD MAN): I spent my life reading reference books. Memorizing facts. So I could know everything. And now I find that I know nothing.......ohhhhhhhhh.
SS: Why have you come here?
TR ( (OLD MAN): I have come to warn you to change your ways. You need to get out-- experience joy -- love -- give of yourself--
SS: But I'm extremely busy here in the library.
TR (OLD MAN): Too busy to live, Ruth? Too busy to love? I come as a warning. Beware. You will be visited by three spirits, Ruth. Not counting me. Counting me that would be four. So three more besides me. For a total of four. And now I must go. (POOF, A BEAT, CLOCK TICKS)
SS: My goodness. What did I eat for lunch? Just a turkey sandwich, I think. Well. Maybe the mustard was bad. (4 CLOCK CHIMES) My goodness. Closing time already? (THUNDER, POOF)
FN (GHOST): Merry Christmas, Ruth. Do you remember when you were merry? I do. (HE CHORTLES)
SS: Are you the spirit whose coming has been foretold to me?
FN (GHOST): The very one. I'm the spirit of Your Beautiful Youth, Ruth. Remember college? Do you? Do you remember this party, Ruth? (PARTY ATMOSPHERE, MUSIC) It was right before graduation. At the Library Club party. At the Fuzzybutts.
SS: Oh, the Fuzzibutts. They were always so happy, weren't they-oh dear-there I am in those red boots-- (LAUGHTER OFF, CLINKING OF GLASSES, WHOOPS). And I'm dancing. And my hair is all undone.
FN (GHOST): You were happy. You loved to sing back then. You sang in a choir. You talked about getting a dog.
SS: I had forgotten all about that.
FN (GHOST): You were 24, Ruth, full of fun. You cooked, you danced, you were fluent in Italian. And look who approaches you--
SS: Why-- it's Ricardo Provolone....
FN (GHOST): He was in love with you.
TR (ITALIAN, PASSIONATE, POETIC)
SS (YOUNG RUTH): Oh Ricardo -- not now--
SS (YOUNG RUTH): I'm sorry-- I have a job offer in Herndon County, Ricardo.
TRITALIAN, PLEADING, INCL "HERNDON COUNTY")
SS (YOUNG RUTH): I don't know-- I have to go-- write me a letter, okay? --Keep in touch. (MINOR CHORDS, CHILL)
FN (GHOST): And he never did. You never heard from him again.
SS: I was a fool--
FN (GHOST): You gave up dancing and you listened to news and information programming on radio. And you married your card catalogue.
SS: You're right....
FN (GHOST, SINGS): There was a time when you were young and free/ And you would laugh and you would dance with me/ The lights were bubbling on the Christmas tree/ I wish those days would come again......
SS: No no-please-it's too painful-I can't bear it-stop! Go away! Leave me alone!!!! (POOF, CLOCK TICKS) Well. That was a close one. (CLOCK CHIMES FIVE) Now if I can just get back to work-just for another half an hour-(SPARKLE, POOF)
TR (BUSH): Ruth Harrison.
SS: Oh dear.
TR (BUSH): I'm the ghost of the present time. I represent things that are, but that should not be.
SS: Well. Don't we know that.
TR (BUSH): Your intern -- what's his name-- Brent or Trent--
TR (BUSH): He doesn't have enough money in his pocket to even buy a crummy poinsettia plant for his mother. His credit card is maxed out and he's got college loans due and his mom got one of those funny mortgages to help him out and now, guess what? The repo man is at the door. Heh heh heh heh.
SS: It's not right.
TR (BUSH): It's the ownership society. We make choices. Sometimes we make the wrong ones.
SS: What can I do to correct my mistakes and make a fresh start and be a better person?
TR (BUSH): You're asking me? Heh heh heh heh. Listen, I do not try to tell other people what to think. That's why people like me. I am a no-fault president. Whatever.
SS: Well there is a right and a wrong way-
TR (BUSH): You know something? I just find that annoying.
SS: Why Mr. President-
TR (BUSH): Go get some help. Anyway I'm outta here. And don't be sending me any overdue notices either, 'cause I am the Decider and I don't have to pay 'em. (POOF, CLOCK TICKS, A BEAT)
SS: Heavens, what a strange day. Maybe I should go home and sleep it off. Although there's still so much work to do. (THUNDER, CONCRETE SLAB MOVES TO THE SIDE) Goodness sakes, what's happening? (SCARY CHORD)
SS: Why it's another ghost. A scary one. With a hood and bony fingers. And he's pointing over there-- what is it? (SHE GASPS) Why it's a bronze plaque. (FOOTSTEPS) What does it say? (GASP) "Ruth Harrison, Born 1955--Withdrawn 2008." Oh no! And here someone has written on the plaque in crayon, "Old Hatchet Face". No. Speak to me, Spirit! Tell me this is not to be! (GK MOAN) Please-what can I do? Tell me what to do-- (ECHOES Tell me what to do.....tell me what to do......
FN (TEEN): Miss Harrison?
SS: Wha-who-Kent? What day is today?
FN (TEEN): Today? Why, it's Christmas Eve.
SS: Christmas Eve!!!! Wonderful!!!! Tell me-- is that dog still for sale -- the dog in the pet shop window?
FN (TEEN): You mean the great big irish setter?
SS: Yes. That one.
FN (TEEN): Gosh, you know those dogs have special exercise needs, don't you?
SS: I don't care. Here's a hundred bucks, Kent. Go buy him for me. And use the rest to buy a big poinsettia plant for your mother.
FN (TEEN): What? How did you know-
SS: And I'm giving you a raise.
FN (TEEN): What? Me? Why?
SS: I'm giving you a raise and then I'm going to start learning Italian again. Prego!!!!
FN (TEEN): Miss Harrison-what's gotten into you?
SS: Oh, from now on, things are going to be different around here. We're going to laugh and sing and dance and live big bold lives.
FN (TEEN): In the library?
FN (TEEN): Here comes your dog, Miss Harrison. (BIG DOG BARKS) His tag says Harry.
SS: My dog. Harry. (DOG PANTING) Oh Harry. I always wanted you. And now I have you. (DOG LICKING) Merry Christmas, Brent. And God bless us. Everyone.
FN (TEEN): Is that grammatically correct, "God bless us, everyone."
SS: Merry Christmas, Kent.
TR (ANNC): And she was true to her word, and she became the merriest librarian that Herndon County had ever seen, and she greeted everyone with a smile and a kind word, and patrons noticed that there were shoemarks on the library tables, and when they pointed this out to her, Miss Harrison just smiled.
(BAND DANCE, PLAYOFF)